Congress organised a mega rally in Karnataka’s Ballari to mark the completion of 1,000 km of Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra on Saturday. The photos and videos from the event have been flooding the social media platforms over the past couple of days. One such image shows an aerial view of a massive gathering of people. Users who shared the image claimed that it showed the Congress’ Ballari rally. Newschecker found the claim to be untrue.
Twitter user @RevatiSharma15 shared the image on October 15, 2022 with the caption, “Bharat joda yatra Bellary 🦾🦾.. This enough to spoil few diapers (sic)” The tweet has received over 1.2k retweets, nearly 6k likes so far. Archived link to the same can be seen here.
Congress leader B M Sandeep was among several Twitter users who shared the photo claiming to show an enormous crowd at the Grand Old Party’s rally in Ballari.
Newschecker also received the image on our WhatsApp tipline (+91- 9999499044 ) multiple times requesting to be fact checked.
Notably, the 3,570-km Bharat Jodo Yatra has been a target of misinformation since it was flagged off in early September. Newschecker has debunked several claims related to the padyatra. The same can be seen here, here and here.
A Yandex reverse image search on the viral photograph led us to a report by The Netherlands-based Leiden University, dated January 20, 2020, titled ‘Collaborative International Research Grant for Dr. Corey Williams.’ The report featured another version of the viral image with the caption, “A Pentecostal revival near Ogbomoso, Nigeria. Multi-day revivals such as this draw in millions of participants.”
Taking a clue, we conducted a Google reverse image on the viral photograph, claiming to show massive footfall at Rahul Gandhi’s Ballari rally, along with the keyword “Nigeria.” The search threw up a report by Greenbarge Reporters, dated January 20, 2015, titled ‘Unprecedented Crowd Welcomes Buhari To Kano, Chanting “Baba Oyoyo”.
Displaying the viral image, the report elaborated, “An unprecedented crowd, today, ushered Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari into Kano, capital of Kano state, renting the air with chants: “sai Buhari, Baba Oyoyo.”
Notably, many users of Nairaland Forum – a Nigerian English-language online platform- “busted” the image on the very same day (January 20, 2015).
A Nairaland user, ‘theshadyexpress’, pointed out that the picture was actually from “Reinhard Bonnke crusade.”
On inspecting the “evidence” link shared by the user, we were directed to an article published in website milost.sk. Carrying another version of the viral image, the article stated, (translated from Slovak) “A few weeks ago, the year 2009 ended (indicating that the article was published in 2010) – the year in which the world-famous evangelist Reinhard Bonnke celebrated 50 years of his service to the Lord… During the last 22 years (1987-2009), Bonnke’s organisation Christ for All Nations (CfaN) organised a number of evangelistic campaigns, visited by more than 120 million people, during which 62 million decisions for Christ were recorded…”
Following this, we looked up “Reinhard Bonnke Nigeria” on Google and scanned the image section on the search engine. This led us to azusareport.com, where the viral image was posted on March 13, 2018 with the caption “Reinhard Bonnke crusade Nigeria.”
The search also yielded a Facebook post by ‘Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke – Official Page’, dated July 20, 2020.The post carried a photo – visuals seen in the viral image from another angle, and attributed to a gathering at Ogbomoso in Nigeria in 2002.
Notably, evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, who died in 2019 aged 79, held a number of rallies or “crusades” in Nigeria. His Christ For All Nations (CFAN) organisation, known for its work throughout Africa, claims Bonnke oversaw more than 79 million conversions to Christianity.
Newschecker was not independently able to ascertain the exact date when the image was shot. However, this image from Nigeria has been in circulation for over a decades now.
Viral post claiming to show an aerial view of colossal gatherings at Rahul Gandhi’s recent rally in Ballari is false. The photo is old and shows visuals from Nigeria.
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